Inter-Korean Summit and Possibility of Holy Father's Visit to the North
Korean people in South and North, and the entire world are in amazement. With no exception all those who were watching the events of the South-North Summit on TV held from June 13-15 in Pyongyang were very surprised because of the totally unexpected pictures shown. The content of the "South and North Joint Declaration" of the 5-point agreement that the two leaders signed following their Summit looks not too new because of its broad formula. However we suspect that there may be many concrete agreements behind it because the joint declaration has come as a result of lengthy and in-depth reflection and tête-à-tête discussion by the two leaders. There is no need to go into the content of the Summit because it is known to all the world.
The encounter of the two leaders was a historical one that has changed both South and North Korea. Thanks to the Summit we can now hope for what was before considered impossible. So great was the Summit for us the Koreans people. Exchange and cooperation in many fields are expected to continue before final realization of reunification. It is expected that there may be some change regarding religion and faith. There was a report regarding the Catholic Church in particular.
On June 16, the spokesman of the Chong Wa Dae made public the invitation of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, to Pope John Paul II. He said that President Kim Dae-jung conveyed the will of the Pope to visit and Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader, accepted it. However, the Holy See is rather cautious in this regard at the moment. It is said that prior to the visit of the Holy Father the Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, the Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang, should first go to the North. All these good news are encouraging for us Korean Catholics.
Transmission of the news was made officially to the Holy See. For sure there can be some problems until the Pope's visit is realized because the Papal visit is first of all, a pastoral one. But if the visit is realized it will have great influence over the achievement of the reunification of Korea and changes in South and North. The event will start with an official invitation by the North Korea and an official response by the Pope. Not only Korean Catholics but all Korean people expect that the Holy Father's visit to North Korea will contribute greatly to promote the unity of the Korean peninsula. The Catholic Church in Korea will do her best regarding the Holy Father's visit to North Korea.
Fr. John Kim Jong-su
Secretary General Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea
Message of the Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of Korean People
South and North Should Make a New Start with Forgiveness and Reconciliation
The Most Rev. Peter Kang, President of the Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People, issued a message on the occasion of the 2000 Prayer Day for the Reconciliation and Unity of Korean People and the 50th anniversary of Korean War. In the message he underlined that the inter-Korean Summit and its results are a great step toward the reconciliation and unity of Korean people and a sign of history making change. "In this Great Jubilee, a new horizon of history is opened in Korean peninsula by the inter-Korean Summit. It has prepared for a new way of peaceful coexistence and reunification, and a great hope to seventy million Korean people," he said.
The Most Rev. Kang invited all Korean Catholics to be united in an ardent prayer and collaboration so that the Summit bears everlasting fruits. He reminded also its exigence by saying "We have to be prepared for sacrifice and sharing regardless the way to realize the unity."
We want to pray for the reconciliation and unity of our people on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Korean War, a fratricidal tragedy. Half century has passed since so many lives were sacrificed and so many families suffered from a quasi-perpetual separation. This tragedy was not our choice but it was a result of conflicts between the socialist structure and the World Power blocks. However, at the end of the past century the world history made a turning point and the ideological conflict and the Cold War structure came to an end.
The Korean peninsula is the only place in the world that has not overcome yet the conflicts of ideology and structures and remained with the danger of war. But, the South and North Summit has opened wide a road to reunification of peaceful coexistence and promised the reunion of the members of separated families, mutual collaboration and exchange. The Summit made a gift of hope to seventy million Koreans!
The Great Jubilee is a year of God? favor that the universal Church has proclaimed for the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ. It is a year when we celebrate the Incarnation of Christ who came to liberate us from yokes and burdens that suppress humankind. It is a year in which we are invited to realize the mystery of the Incarnation more completely. The Great Jubilee Year coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Korean War (a jubilee year). In this jubilee year the Korean people want to be liberated from the burden of ideological structure, fear of war, mistrust and hostility between brethren. This is truly a happy event and a realization of the Great Jubilee. We have to recognize that all these developments are the providence and grace of God who rules history and to give God thanks and praise.
The encounter of the two leaders and their agreements are a big step toward reconciliation and unity of the Korean people, a sign of significant change. However the agreements should not remain as like in the past only a political declaration that is thrown away after it is proclaimed, but be implemented step by step. For this, the participation and collaboration of all Koreans are indispensable. This must be done with the conversion of mind toward the North Korea. We have to overcome prejudices against North Koreans formed by anti-communist and distorted education under the cold war structure. We have to start work for unification by changing our mind to a new mind set and recognizing that the people in the North are human beings like we are and accepting them as brothers and sisters.
Fifty five years has made us cultivate a different mentality and culture. Even if our accent, clothes and ways are different, we have to learn from our hearts that we have same blood and same culture.
Simultaneously, we have to admit the fact that during 55 years of the past, our relationship was difficult. We remember that North Korea has attempted to threaten us with war provocations and maneuvering. For North Korea the economic power of South Korea and presence of the U.S. Army may be serious threats. Around the cease fire line heavy arms that can destroy an entire nation and people are still installed. This is our reality.
In order to overcome all painful memories of the past and an imminent reality, the South and North should start anew with mutual forgiveness and reconciliation. True liberation is the liberation from our sins and complete liberation from sin is not possible without forgiveness and reconciliation.
War is the most unreasonable collective sin of humankind. The tragedy of the second Korean War should never happen again in our land. Fortunately, the Summit agreed to liberate our people from the threat of war. The agreement will become a good basis to implement mutual forgiveness and reconciliation.
Now it is time for us to "beat swords into plowshares (Is 2,4). To witness the sincerity of our forgiveness and reconciliation we have to help the people of North Korea suffering from disease and hunger. Peace can? be made without efforts. The unification of East and West Germany has shown us how demanding it is and how much sacrifice and patience it requires. Thus, we have to be prepared to share whatever ways of reunification we can take. In these years, the Church in Korea, many dioceses, religious congregations, lay organizations and individuals have made efforts to helpthe people of North Korea. Now with legitimate conditions we can do more.
We wish for the day when our northern brothers and sisters recognize divine providence and grace that judges between the nations, and arbitrates for many peoples"(Is 2,4) and praise and glorify Him freely. For this all Korean Catholics are invited to pray with one heart and one spirit. The Holy Father wishes the Church in North Korea has all her functions restored and prays for it.
June 25, 2000
+ Peter Kang
Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul President
Committee for the Reconciliation of Korean People
Catholic Church's Concern About Peace in Korean Peninsula:
Holy Father Encourages Inter-Korean Summit
On June 11, the Holy Father encouraged inter-Korean Summit and blessed it before reciting the Regina Coeli at St. Peter's Square: "In coming days a meeting of historic significance will take place between the leaders of North and South Korea, in Pyongyang, Peoples' Democratic Republic of Korea. I join all persons of good will in congratulating the leaders of the two countries for this initiatives, in the hope that the dialogue and the exchanges might contribute to the reconciliation of the two peoples, to the reunion of families which have now been separated for a half a century and to renewed stability and prosperity for the entire Korean peninsula. Only through a generous commitment will it be possible to overcome the difficulties and reach a positive result, which would be an occasion of joyful hope for humankind."
The Holy See has supported the South Korean government's Sunshine Policy as an effort to put an end to the Cold War structure and solve inter-Korean issues through dialogue. The Holy See has provided spiritual and material aid such as medical equipment and food to the North four times since 1996 via its official delegation. In November 1999, the Vatican Undersecretary for Relations with States Msgr. Celestino Migliore delivered additional medical equipment and food to the North. They met North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Ri In-gyu.
During the inter-Korean Summit held from June 13-15 in Pyongyang North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has expressed his intention to invite Pope John Paul II to visit North Korea to the suggestion of President Kim Dae-jung.
Earlier in March, President Kim Dae-jung had asked the Pope to visit North Korea for the sake of peace on the Korean peninsular and the world during his state visit to Vatican. In response to his request, the Pope said he hopes to do so but did not have any plan at the moment, and it would be a "miracle" if he could travel to North Korea.
The Church in Korea has witnessed and advocated unconditional humanitarian aid to North Korea and interreligious dialogue (see CBCK Newsletter No.19 and issues published from 1995).
At the 2000 Spring General Assembly of the CBCK the Bishops reconfirmed to continue the ongoing assistance for North Korea and the sisterhood relationship between the 14 dioceses in South Korea and cities and provinces in North Korea.
The entire Church in Korea followed the history-making inter-Korean Summit with prayer and hopes. Before leaving to the Summit President Kim Dae-jung (Thomas), attended Mass celebrated at Chong Wa Dae and prayed for the success of the encounter with the North Korean leader.
North Korea is said to have some 5,000 Catholics with only one Catholic church opened in Pyongyang which was inaugurated in 1988. The Changchung church is opened, but there are no resident priests since the Korean War, which ended in 1953 with a cease-fire agreement.
The Most Rev. Nicholas Cheong, Archbishop of Seoul who is the Apostolic Administrator of Pyongyang in a Catholic press interview, June 26th, regarding the visit of the Pope to North Korea indicated a cautious position by saying that "For the visit of the Holy Father to North Korea, considerable negotiation and exchange of opinions may be necessary.?He insisted on the necessity of preliminary preparations for the papal visit and said that ?or this the visit of the ordinary of Pyongyang should take place first."
"If I can't go to the North in the competence of a religious leader because freedom of religion is not guaranteed in North Korea, I would consider a humanitarian visit to the North to help the North Koreans if there is an official invitation from the North," he said. Earlier the Archbishop expressed on several occasions his strong hope to make a pastoral visit to the North.
Agreement on Reunion of Separated Families Most Welcomed
With no doubt, when the inter-Korean Summit was announced what people expected most was the agreement on reunion of separated families. On June 14, the South and North reached a broad agreement on the reunion of separated families which was warmly welcomed by the families in South Korea expressing hopes that they will soon see their beloved relatives after five decades of separation.
Before leaving for Pyongyang on June 13, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung said he will give top priority at the summit to the reunion of split families in consideration of the age of first-generation separated family members in the South. On June 14, both side agreed to exchange dispersed family members around Aug. 15, the day the two Koreas celebrate as anniversary to mark the end of Japanese colonial rule on the Korean peninsula. As first step to implement the joint agreement on separated families the Red Cross officials from South and North Korea opened talks on June 27 at Kumkang Hotel in the northern part and agreed on the reunion of 100 people of both sides on August 15th.
Since the announcement of the Joint Declaration on June 15, as of July 1st some 75,000 people have submitted applications to locate their families in North Korea, a Unification Ministry official said.
According to the report of the National Statistical Office the first-generation separated family members in South Korea are tallied at 1.23 million, 690,000 of them aged 60 or older. By ages: over 80 there are 63.727, from 75 to 79 there are 9830, from 70 to 74 there are 121,301, from 65 to 69 there are 176,702 When their children are taken into account, the number totals 7.67 million. According to the Unification Ministry, South and North Korean relatives met on more than 2,000 occasions last year, a whopping 83 percent increase from 1998. The ministry said a total of 195 families from the two Koreas met each other last year in a third country, which usually refers to China. This number was far more than the 61 and 108 reunions held in 1997 and 1998, respectively. In addition, five families had reunions in North Korea last year.
So far. clandestine meetings and correspondences between dispersed families have been made by "reunion promoters," mostly doing business in China. South Korean families reportedly pay $2,000 for the confirmation of death or survival of their families in the North, $3,000 for the exchange of letters and $5,700 for a reunion.
The Ministry of Unification of South Korea estimates some 690,000 people fled to the South after Korean War began in 1950.
Message of the Sixth Year of Celebration Day for Life:
Message of the Sixth Year of Celebration Day for Life:
Most Rev. Peter Lee Ki-heun, president of the Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry, in his message published on May 28, the sixth year the Day for Life is celebrated, placed focus on the truth that human life is not made by human hands but is created by God who created humankind and the universe. "We can't deny that any attempt related to human cloning are acts of violation against the fundamental nature and characteristics of human life", he pointed out in regard to widespread attempts of human cloning. Following is the full text of the message.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On the occasion of the sixth year of celebration Day for Life the Catholic Church in Korea, by reconfirming the Church teaching on the dignity of human life, invites all of you to become children of light who witnesses the truth following God who is the truth and the life(Jn 14,6) and to dedicate yourself to the protection of life.
Pope John Paul II has pointed out the misuse of freedom that lies at the core of anti-life currents that are widespread in our modern society. In fact "certain trends of modern thought have gone so far as to exalt freedom to such an extent which would be becomes an absolute, which would then become a source of values"(Splendor of truth, No.32). Such trends have caused a loss of the sense of God. As result modern society is going through a crisis of truth. Moreover, the truth has become a relative value in moral judgements because the criteria of moral judgements of good and evil is made independently and the right to act accordingly is entrusted to individuals.
Today, the scientific technology touching the area of life has made tremendous progress. In the area of so called biotechnology, scientists have succeeded in producing life of mammals by combining unisexual generative cells in order to develop methods of treating certain incurable diseases by using the human gene structure. Recently, the world of biotechnology, by developing a gene technology to prevent humans from growing old, has presented the possibility of extending the human life span up to the age of 105.
There is no doubt that the objective of the research in this field consists of promoting the quality of human life and producing medicines to cure incurable disease. The means to promote health and extend the span of human life are developed thanks to the constant research on genetical modification and experiment. Such marvelous progress of biotechnologyhas made human life richer and many people are excited about it, However, such great progress sometimes is deficient because that is not completely nor totally understood. Often modern scientists tend to be interested only in productive and experimental processes. As result, people can commit folly to justify the violation of other people's freedom in the name of scientific technology.
Such thought makes transcendence and religious values of human beings something insignificant and even non-existent by making it an object of scientific recognition. In this way, scientific knowledge of modern times, by materializing humankind, results in a knowledge for the service of productivity rather than a service for humanity.
The most fundamental truth of human life is the fact that it is not made by human hands or human will, but it comes from God alone who created humankind and the universe. God is the master of human life and, therefore we must integrally conserve and protect God-given life. For this reason we have to understand clearly the truth that human life can be neither fabricated nor destroyed for any reason. We can't deny that any attempts related to the human cloning are acts of violation against the fundamental nature and characteristics of human life.
The dignity of humankind created in the image of God(cf.Gen 1,26-27) must not be deformed by manipulation of human intervention. If the irrevocable and unique characteristics of human life are destroyed by human cloning, humanity will lose immediately all the treasures of its history and experience, such as equality, freedom and human rights, all of which were obtained at a high human high cost on the part of many people.
In such a way, the moral relativism that distorts freedom is threatening humanity. The culture of death that tries to justify not only genetical modification but also euthanasia and abortion is widespread in our society. More serious question here is that of the government? indifference. The government that should promote human life and the common good has no appropriate alternatives to counter the moral crisis. If the law that has to protect citizens's fundamental rights is against human life, it has to be abolished. Law is intended to exercise its authority when human life is threatened and violated .
What is possible in scientific technology doesn't mean it is morally possible. What is allowed in positive laws doesn't mean it is morally acceptable. If the scientific technology is accepted without question by disregarding existential and moral aspect of humankind it will not be able to serve humanity. It will cause dehumanization.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this time of the crisis of truth about human life, we cordially invite all of you to return to God who is the truth. The God of truth is the God of life, and loving the God of truth is authentic freedom because authentic freedomis an exceptional sign of the divine image within human beings (Gaudium et spes, No. 17). The God of life teaches us. "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free"(Jn 8,32).
May 28th, 2000 Day for Life
+ Peter Lee
Ordinary Bishop Military Ordinate of Korea President
Committee for Family Pastoral Ministry
Message on the Great Jubilee of the Disabled:
Love and Concern to the Disabled
On the occasion of the Great Jubilee of the disabled on May 17, the Most Rev. Gabriel Chang, President of the Caritas Coreana, issued following message and wished that all disabled brothers and sisters be filled with the grace and joy, love and peace of the Jubilee year.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. The first Sunday of May is the Jubilee day of the disabled. It is a day to proclaim joy to all disabled who suffer from physical and mental handicaps and at the same time it asks all Christians including disabled people to share special communion in love that Jesus Christ has shown by his example.
2000 years ago Jesus Christ came to the world to proclaim the good news to the poor and his activity was primarily related to those who needed help in sufferings (cf. Salvifici doloris No.16). Jesus revealed his identity by saying that "The blind receives their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them"(cf. Lk 7,22; Mt 11,5). Therefore it is one of the natural duties of Christians who celebrate the Great Jubilee to proclaim a year of the Lord's favor to those who are excluded, poor and suffer because they are disabled and to approach them in love.
2. According to the statistics of the Welfare Ministry, the estimated number of the disabled population reached 1.1 million as of the end of December, 1999. The number of those who are registered at the Ministry of Health and Welfare and received some help are about 500,000; the visually disabled are 50,000; the disabled in hearing and speaking are about 70,000; the mentally disabled are 80,000. A problem is the disparity of 400,000 between the estimated number of disabled and those who are registered. This significant disparity may mean that in our society there is a hidden factor that doesn't recognize or accept disabled people.
It is true that with the progress of the society the welfare system for the disabled made its progress too. However, from the viewpoint of the disabled there are many things to be desired. We hear constant complaints that for economic reason, the disabled are the first to be dismissed from jobs and in many sectors of society they are disadvantaged, have to endure inconveniences, and are isolated from social attentions in many cases. We ask a concrete policy system that provides the disabled with equal work and equal life similar to healthy people and offers them the 'priority' of assistance.
3. Dear disabled brothers and sisters! As we celebrate the Jubilee of the disabled we invite you to listen to the Gospel that Jesus Christ proclaimed and to look at Him. He achieved the salvation through the agony of the Cross. "The witnesses of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ have handed over to the Church and to humankind a specific Gospel of suffering"(Salvifici doloris, No,25). "Jesus Christ went toward his own suffering, aware of its saving power"(ibid, No.16). You are confronted with physical, mental and psychological suffering connected with your handicap. You naturally ask questions of "Why"(cf. ibid, No.13) the suffering and you keep fighting against it, something which healthy people don't experience. Sometimes, the suffering drives people to frustration or desperation making them mentally exhausted. Not only that but also it drives people to great sadness that take away love and joy. Jesus, in his suffering, cried with a loud voice; "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"(Mt 27,46) But he who had to go through agony before his death prayed; "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want"(Mt 26, 39.42).
4. Jesus Christ who gave the new light of salvation to human suffering wants all those who suffer to understand the meaning of suffering and its saving power by calling each of them in a mysterious way. Saint Paul the Apostle answered; "I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for you sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ? afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church"(Col 1,24).
Dear disabled brothers and sisters, I hope that you can discover the special grace that is hidden in your suffering and the "certainty that your suffering is serving, like Christ, the salvation of other brothers and sisters"(Salvifici doloris, 27). Also I want you to imitate Jesus Christ who trusted and obeyed fully to the will of God on the summit of frustration and desperation.
5. Dear brothers and sisters, let us remember the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lc 10,25-37) of which our Holy Father said it belongs to the "Gospel of suffering". "The parable of the Good Samaritan indicates what relationship each of us have toward our suffering neighbors. Everyone who helps the suffering of another person, in whatever form it may take, is a Good Samaritan"(Salvifici doloris, No. 28). Not only everyone who helps the suffering of neighbors in mercy and compassion and gives material help but also those who dedicate themselves to them from the heart is a Good Samaritan too.
We must be a Good Samaritan to the disabled people whom we encounter in our surroundings. Showing our genuine love and concern we have to take the lead in offering them effective help. In this way the joy ofthe Jubilee must be for the disabled not just an inner joy but a jubilation which is manifested outwardly (cf. TMA, No.16). As the "parable of the Good Samaritan that is in profound harmony with the conduct of Christ himself"(Salvific doloris, No.30) teaches us, we wish for all of you the Great Jubilee be a year of divine grace in order to fully find oneself through a sincere gift of ourselves (cf. Gaudium et spes, No. 24).
6. Dear brothers and sisters, we congratulate all on the 2000th anniversary of the Birth of Jesus Christ and we wish our disabled brothers and sisters be filled with the grace and joy, love and peace of the Great Jubilee. We thank also all those who have dedicated themselves to the disabled in a special way so that their suffering become a saving grace.
May 7th, 2000 Great Jubilee of the Disabled
+ Gabriel Chang
Bishop of Cheongju President
News from the Church in Korea
● Korean Catholics Reach Four Million
According to the statistics of the Catholic Church in Korea published recently by the CBCK the total number of Korean Catholics as of December 31, 1999 reached 3946,844 or 8.3 percent of the Korean population with an increase of 142,750 from 1998 to 1999 or 3.8 percent. The report figures show: male: 1,644,410 (4.7 percent increase), female: 2,365,156 (4.0 percent increase).
In contrast to the high increase rate of Korean Catholics, the number of those who stopped religious practice grew to 31.7 percent of the total number of Korean Catholics compared to 29.9 percent in 1998. Parishes are now 1,190 with an increase of 43 (1,147 in 1998) and secondary stations are 1,120 with a decrease of 28 (1148 in 1998). For priestly vocation, priests are 2,726 with an increase of 120 or 4.6 percent (2,606 in 1998) and the number of Catholics served by a priest decreased from 1,359 in 1998 to 1,348. Religious: male - 1,170 with an increase of 25 or 2.2 percent (1,145 in 1998), female - 8,551 with an increase of 261 or 3.1 percent (8,290 in 1998). Major seminarians: 1,547 from seven major seminaries.
● Catholic Church in Korea Prepares a Document concerning Its Faults in the Past
On May 29, the first meeting of the historical and theological committee of the CBCK was held to make a self-examination of the history of the Church in Korea. The committee, affiliated with the Pastoral Institute of Korea, was formed recently following the recommendation of Pope John Paul II for the "purification of memory" and the decision made by the CBCK at its 2000 Spring General Assembly. The participants at the meeting agreed to examine the history of the Church
in Korea by dividing it into four periods: persecution era, open port policy era, Japanese colonial era and post-independence era. The committee will submit its report to the 2000 Autumn General Assembly. A comprehensive review will be made before its publication in November.
● Catholics Lead to Uproot Regional Animosity
Nongsong-dong Parish of diocese of Kwangju, Chonnam Province, and Chungang-dong Parish of diocese of Masan, Kyongnam Province, enjoyed a friendly time together beyond the walls of regional animosity, on April 15. The meeting was arranged by two schoolmate priests; Fr. Song Ch'ol-hofrom Kwangju and Fr. Hwang Pong-ch'ol from Masan. 88 Kwangju Catholics were warmly welcomed by 200 Chungang-dong parishioners of Masan. They prayed together, enjoyed friendly sharing, and planted Camellias as remembrance of their encounter. Masan Catholics were invited to the 20th anniversary of Kwangju citizens' uprising for democracy on May 18. "The goal of the encounter is to work for unity among divided people by tearing down walls between parishes, dioceses, and different regions. We will continue creating opportunities to promote unity and harmony to uproot regional animosity." Fr. Song said.
● Catholics Ask Com pensation for An Unborn Victim
The Catholic Alliance for Abolition of Mother and Child Health Law (dir. Rev. Kim Won-taek) asked compensation for an unborn child who was killed by a martial law soldier during the Kwangju citizens?up rising for democracy. Twenty-three year old Choi Mi-ae was pregnant when she was gun shot with her baby by a martial law soldier on May 11, 1980 in downtown, Kwangju. The Catholic Alliance claimed that the unborn child of 32 weeks (8 months) is a person who would have been 21 year old if not killed. Therefore the unborn victim deserves compensation. The Alliance is carrying out a signature campaign. As of May 1,260,000 people have signed for the abolition of the Mother and Child Health Law.
● More Concern to Promote Workers' Rights Urged
On the occasion of the Jubilee of workers and migrant workers the Seoul archdiocese called for Church's concern and efforts to promote better working conditions and human rights of workers, especially migrant workers in Korea. The labor pastoral committee of the Seoul archdiocese (dir. Rev. Yong Tong-jin) issued a message entitled"Our declaration for the 2000 Jubilee for Workers" and insisted on the importance of job security, fair salary and reasonable reduction of working hours.
The committee stressed that appropriate working conditions and a fair salary regardless of the form of employment should be guaranteed because labor is a means of people's survival. Adequate salary is indispensable for workers in order to protect their families which are the foundation of society and to prevent a crisis. Reasonable reduction of working hours is important (40 hours per week) so that workers' families can enjoy an appropriate family life in peace and dialogue in accordance with the divine will. The committee asked also for the establishment of laws for migrant workers to guarantee their human rights in all aspects of life including the social and institutional levels.
In the meantime the Filipino Catholic Community in Seoul issued a 2000 Mayday statement and asked the Korean government for equal pay for equal work and guarantee of their basic rights.
● Pastoral Care for Victims of Family Violence Requested
In a seminar held on April 26 with theme "Legal measures to prevent family violence and the role of the Church", Rev. Roh Yon-ho, director of the family pastoral ministry of the Seoul archdiocese, insisted that the problem of family violence should be considered as important part of family pastoral ministry. "Protecting victims of family violence in respect and understanding is one of the primary roles of the Church," Rev. Roh said. "If priests and Sisters treat women who suffer from beatings and all sorts of family violence as impatient people and ignore their suffering and desperation they may be completely destroyed. Misusing Bible texts to justify male supremacy is wrong and dangerous," he pointed out.
"One of the essential mission of the Church is to create helpful environment for powerless people within the Church by continual education of priests and seminarians about the equality of men and women. Our society will be changed when the Church restores women? dignity and equality in theory and practice," Rev. Rho said.
● CBCK to Send congratulatory Message to Buddhists
On the occasion of 2544th anniversary of Buddha's Birthday (May 11) Bishop Boniface Choi Ki-san, coadjutor bishop of Inch'on and the president of the committee for promoting Christian Unity and Interreligious Dialogue of the CBCK, sent a message to all Buddhists across the country and called for interreligious dialogue and collaboration between the two religions. "On the friendly relationship that already exists between Catholics and Buddhists let us collaborate with each other to make our land flow with peace and love," bishop Choi said.
"As the Catholic Church celebrates the 2000th year of the birth of Jesus Christ we the Korean Catholics want to renew our friendship with Buddhists, our efforts of dialogue with other religions and to work together for the good of humanity. In the history of suffering and agony of Korea, Buddhists sowed peace and consolation in the hearts of Korean people," the message concluded.
● Women Leaders of Different Religions to Launch "Hanul-an Peace Movement"
Women leaders of the major religions including Catholics and Buddhists in Korea launched a peace movement. They had their foundation ceremony ofthe One Family Movement or Hanul-an on April 12 at the Cultural Education Center located in Yangjaedong, Seoul and pledged to open a new era of harmony and reconciliation in the history of religion in Korea.
"Hanul-an movement" which means "inside of the same wall" or "same or one family" wants to be a women's movement to open a new era of harmony and reconciliation among different religions by ending the history of religion tainted by antagonism and jealousy. Over 1,000 people attended the foundation ceremony hosted by the women's association of Won Buddhism. After the ceremony 13,000 boxes of dried milk were handed over to the Korean Red Cross to be sent to North Korea.
Participation of the Samsohwae members' chorus made the ceremony more meaningful. Samsohwae meaning "three smiles" is a group of nuns from Catholic, Buddhist and Won Buddhist communi-ties.
● SK Govemment Called to Recognize Its Responsibility in the Civilians' Massacre During the Vietnam War
The Catholic Human Rights Committee and the Lawyers' Association for Democratic Society together with other Catholic lay organizations held a press conference and asked Korean government to clarify its involvement in the civilian massacres of the Vietnam war. They proposed to form a joint fact-finding team of government and civic organizations. "The Korean government has to make an official apology to the Vietnamese people and compensate the victims' families," they said. "The Korean government is keeping silence by ignoring witnesses of Vietnam war veterans and family members of victims," they criticized the government's behavior.
"Revealing the truth is an opportunity to clean the historical wrong doings of the past rather than punishment of sinners." they said.
● Jubilee of Women, "Co-Creator with God"
"We have to recognize the existence of discrimination against women within the Church. Indeed the Church must follow the example of Jesus who raised oppressed women to a leading position in building of the Kingdom of God," said Most Rev. Peter Kang, Auxiliary Bishop of Seoul, who presided a Mass of the Jubilee of women on March 25 at Jongdong Franciscan Center, Seoul. Some 200 participants from various women's organizations and religious congregations formed a preparatory committee for a Korean Catholic Women's Solidarity Association and declared to promote the role of women in the Church and requested that the Bishops' Conference to set up a special committee for women.
Meanwhile in Suwon, some 4,500 women celebrated the Women's Jubilee and opened a Catholic Women's Home for sexually abused women. Theyalso handed to Most Rev. Paul Choi, Bishop of Suwon, a sum of US$3,300 as a contribution to assist North Korean children. In a declaration the women reaffirmed the sovereignty of women who bear human life and raise it as "co-creators with God and the image of a mother who gives birth to life is the image of God himself who is the source of life," Most Rev. Choi said. Similar events were held across the country.
News in Brief
Catholic and Buddhists are joined in art. A statue of the merciful Bodhisattva of Prof. John Choi Jong-tae, a devoted Catholic and famous sculptor, was erected at the Kilsang Temple in Seoul. The statue made of granite with 1.8m high reflects serenity of Our Lady of Sorrow and Tenderness. To the request of Ven. Pubjong of Kilsang Temple Prof. Choi offered it as a gift and sign of encounter of the two religions in art. Prof. Choi is the president of the Catholic Artists?Association and an emeritus professor of Seoul National University.
Bishops' Easter message for the new millennium focused on new life by calling for forgiveness, reconciliation, and material and spiritual sharing with North Koreans in difficulties, and welcomed the inter-Korean Summit, a historic event for the Korean people. "Political leaders of the South and North, in collaboration with all Korean people, must work toward unity and reconciliation of Korean people without condition," Archbishop Nicholas Cheong of Seoul wished.
For the first time in the history of Korean politics Catholics obtained 66 seats (24.2 percent out of 273 seats) for the 16th National Assembly at the April 13th general elections including four congresswomen; 30 seats for the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, 30 seats for the opposition Grand National Party, and 6 for minor parties. Yang Jun-sok, Ambrosio, executive secretary of Catholic Solidarity form 2000 General Elections hoped that the Catholic lawmakers fulfill political reform by being "salt and light of the world".
As many as 5,200 people participated in the annual retreat of Catholic public officials on May 28th. Catholic public officials and their family members gathered together from across the country to pray and share fraternal love and reflect on their common mission in work places as Christians. "The most important Christian virtues for Christian public officials are community spirit and solidarity," His Eminence Stephen Cardinal Kim stressed.
On Easter Sunday the pastor(Rev. Kang Kwi-sok) and parishioners of Yongsan Parish in Seoul expressed their Easter faith with donation of organs of their bodies. Eighty one people registered on Easter Sunday alone. Theyoungest organ donor is Shin Tong-woon, a 18-year old boy. Among the donors were some non-Catholics and Protestants who joined the Catholics.
The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints
The Lives of the 103 Korean Martyr Saints' 6
Saint Pak Hiu-sun Lucia(1801-1839)
Saint Pak K'un-agi Maria(1786-1839)
Pak Hui-sun Lucia and Park K'un-agi Maria were sisters who were born into a wealthy home in Hanyang. The younger sister, Pak Hui-sun Lucia, was regarded as a beauty, and at an early age she was called to be a lady-in-waiting to the queen in the royal palace, She was clever and capable and so she was rapidly promoted. She was highly literate in both Korean and Chinese. On the other hand her beauty was the source of a problem. At the age of fifteen, the seventeen year old king noticed her and was attracted by her beauty, making every effort to seduce her. Palace women would normally have regarded this as an honor and most of them went to great lengths to attract the king's attention. But Pak Hiu-sun Lucia was conscious of the queen? trust and with great courage avoided falling into temptation. A rumor about the situation swept through the palace. Later, when Bishop Imbert heard of it, he remarked, "This is an act of bravery and uprightness, the like of which has never been seen in Korea before."
Pak Hui-sun Lucia was thirty before she heard of the Catholic Church. She was becoming dissatisfied with life in the palace and was searching for greater meaning in life when the Catholic Church became known and was as a great light to her. She wanted to study the doctrine more deeply in order to better understand and believe it. However, the palace, with its luxury and superstition, was no place for the practice of truth. At the time it was customary for palace women to live permanently in the palace, leaving only for very serious reasons, so it was hard for her to escape. However she was determined to spend the rest of her life living according to the teachings of the Church, and, feigning illness, she finally obtained permission to leave.
Her father was adamantly opposed to the Church and refused to let her stay at home so she was forced to live with a nephew. There she rejected all pomp and luxury and adopted a simple lifestyle. Such was her example that her nephew and his family were also attracted to the Church and were baptized.
At about this time her older sister, Pak Maria, also came to live in the same house, The background to her conversion is not known but it was undoubtedly due to the influence of her younger sister. When the persecution broke out they tried to live quietly together but on April 15, 1839, even as they were trying to draw up plan to avoid the wrath of the authorities, the police descended on their house. Pak Hui-sun Lucia went out to meet them and invited them in for wine and food. To hersurprised family and other Catholics she said, "Nothing happens without God's permission. Since this is God's will, let us accept it willingly."
Pak Hui-sun Lucia, her sister and the other Catholics went off to prison in good spirits. They understood what the future held for them but, strangely, they were not afraid. News that one of the palace women had been arrested spread fast. A decree came down from the palace, "If there is evidence against any previous palace woman, or any of the present palace women, they are to be arrested after the palace has been notified." Because she had been a palace woman Pak Hiu-sun Lucia was tortured mercilessly.
The police commissioner shouted at her, "Palace women are better educated than other women, how could you believe this despicable false religion?" "We do not believe this a false religion. God created everything in heaven and on earth and gave life to people so it is right to give praise and worship to God. It is an obligation on everyone to adore God," Pak Hiu-sun Lucia replied.
"Give up the Catholic church and report the names of other believers," the commissioner demanded. "God is my creator and Father. Whatever happens I cannot abandon him. Also, he has forbidden us to harm others, so I cannot name other believers."
The commissioner realized that he was not going to succeed with Pak Hui-sun Lucia so he turned her and her sister over to the judges. In the court prison she was tortured three more times, with thirty strokes of the cane each time. Her flesh was lacerated, the blood flowed, the bone of her leg was exposed and finally the other leg broke, Pak Hui-sun Lucia wiped her wounds with her hair saying, "Now I understand a little the pain of our Lord Jesus and Holy Mother Mary." She refused to let her pain show outwardly. No matter how severe her wounds, they completely healed within a few days to the amazement of everyone. The guards and judges attributed it to magic. Realizing that there was no hope of persuading the prisoners to recant, they reported.
"Pak Hui-sun Lucia and her companions persist day and night in their erroneous way. Their deeds are wicked and insincere. Their speech and their silence is all superstition and magic. In speech and in sign language they do nothing but curse. They refuse to repent and therefore are worthy of death."
In prison Pak Hui-sun Lucia, an active apostle of the Lord, taught the prisoners, comforted the sorrowful and helped the Catholics amidst their worries and doubts.
Lucia prepared for martyrdom. While life in prison was extremely hard she was anxious to go quickly to the Lord's side. One day she called the torturer and said to him. "I have a request to make. When you cut off my head do not lose your nerve. Do it with one stroke of the sword."
Pak K'un-agi Maria, like her sister, suffered greatly and also received the death sentence. However the law forbade two family members being executed on the same day so she and her sister had to be parted. As she left the prison for execution on May 24, 1839, Pak Hui-sun Lucia said to the other prisoners, "Let us walk the road of martyrdom together to obtain the glory of heaven." She prayed all the way to the execution ground and without losing her composure she received the executioner's blow and went to her Lord's side. She was thirty-nine years of age. Pak K'un-agi Maria waited another four months until September 3 when she also, at the age of fifty-four, let her blood flow for her Lord. Both Lucia and Maria were canonized on May 6, 1984 at Yoido, Seoul, by Pope John Paul II.